Namaste to all you legendary email subscribers. Welcome to my April finance report, as pieced together from a couple of different coffee shops in Kathmandu.
As usual, I’ll share with you all the details of my finances below, along with a few notes that I think you’ll find interesting.
But before we get to that, let me throw out some of the many kindnesses that came my way last month. All told, they ended up saving me a good chunk of money or just making my life much easier in some shape or form…
Paid in Kindness
- Early in April I went to Thane (north of Mumbai) to visit the in-laws of a friend of mine from New Orleans. They kindly gave me a place to stay for three nights, treated me to several meals, and drove me around quite a bit.
- In Mumbai I met up several times with a reader named Michelle. She and her husband Nelson proved to be very cool people. As well as letting me nap one afternoon on their couch and engaging me in great conversations, we also dined together more than once. Almost every time, they insisted on picking up the bill.
- My friend María hosted me for almost two weeks in Delhi, at a nice apartment with fast wifi. María was actually sharing the apartment with a German lady and two dogs, all of whom made me feel very welcome.
- Fellow blogger Tia Sparkles, who treated me to coffee and a great chat one afternoon on the outskirts of Delhi.
- A Nepalese chap named Kokil who I met while booking my trip to Nepal. He gave me lots of good advice about Kathmandu and kept me company on the train from Delhi.
- A reader named Madhura who drove far out of her way to meet me for a coffee in Delhi.
- All the folks at my new apartment building, from the landlord who gave me a good deal on the rent, to the ever-pleasant maintenance guy, to the landlord’s son who was very concerned about my bowel troubles.
- A chap named Sachin who helped me find that apartment and drove me around Kathmandu on his scooter to check out a couple of places.
- Countless friends online and off who suggested diarrhea remedies. (Funny though how much contradicting advice I got. In the end I went to a clinic here in Kathmandu and got some prescription pills that worked well.)
- The Kathmandu taxi driver who stopped to treat me to a cup of tea on the way back from Durbar Square. I figured he was going to scam me somehow, but it turned out he was just a genuinely nice chap who wanted to show a foreigner a little Nepalese hospitality.
- A Scottish lady named Jackie here in the valley, who met up with me for coffee and gave me a lot of good advice about getting settled (she’s lived here for years).
- Annika, Bryan and Matt for helping me test the paid subscription setup before it went live here on DtR. Thanks as well to Andrew, Avery and David who offered more help if I needed it.
- All those legendary folks who signed up for paid subscriptions, sent donations, or otherwise supported me and my work last month.
(Note: The risk of listing out such kindnesses is that I may accidentally forget someone who was very kind to me during the previous month. My apologies if you did me a good turn and I haven’t mentioned you above. It’s not that I don’t appreciate your generosity; more likely that I just had a brain fart.)
Okay, let’s move on to the more numerical form of currency. Keep in mind that I spent all my time last month in India and Nepal. Diving in…
Food and Drink
|Pubs, Coffee Shops, Restaurants, Take-aways||€ 235|
Once again I spent way less than I thought here, given that I eat out most of the time these days. I guess it helped immensely that food in India and Nepal is so cheap. In March I spent €331 here.
Housing and Utilities
|Two months rent for apartment in Kathmandu||€ 812|
|5 nights at Traveller’s Inn, Mumbai||€ 62|
|5 nights at Family Peace House, Kathmandu||€ 50|
Almost twice the €470 I spent on housing in utilities in March. If you read my recent article about negotiating, you’ll know that I felt I got a good deal on my apartment in Kathmandu. The catch though was that I had to pay two months rent upfront. In the long run it saves me money, but it doesn’t do this month’s figures any favors.
|5 months of travel insurance from World Nomads||€ 253|
|Sleeper train from Mumbai to Delhi||€ 35|
|Taxis in Mumbai||€ 31|
|30-day tourist visa for Nepal||€ 30|
|Bus tour to Agra||€ 28|
|Sleeper train from Delhi to Gorakhpur||€ 19|
|Taxis in Kathmandu||€ 12|
|Overnight bus from Bhairahawa to Kathmandu||€ 6|
|Metro tokens in Delhi||€ 6|
|Rickshaws in Delhi||€ 4|
|Rickshaw to Bhairahawa bus station||€ 3|
|Passport photos||€ 2|
|Train from Mumbai to Thane||€ 2|
|Bus from Thane to Mumbai||€ 1|
|Bus from Gorakhpur to Sounali||€ 1|
No big cruise this month, so way down from the €1185 I spent on travel in March.
|StudioPress Pro Plus (for $50 Blogs)||€ 265|
|Web design outsourcing||€ 91|
|WooThemes Developer Club ((for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription)||€ 15|
|MS Remote Desktop (monthly subscription)||€ 15|
|Ecwid shopping cart (for $50 Blogs, monthly subscription)||€ 14|
|AWeber email marketing (extra charge for 500+ subscribers)||€ 8|
|Socialoomph.com (monthly subscription)||€ 3|
Way up from last month’s €109. The StudioPress Pro Plus package will pay for itself in the long run, as it’s a once-off fee that will eventually be covered by $50 Blog clients.
The web design outsourcing is payment to a chap who’s helping me with $50 Blogs. I have a pretty solid system set up now for basic orders, so it’s just a matter of forwarding the info on to him and he does the work. Cuts into my profits but saves me a good chunk of time, so it’s worth it.
Also, this is the last month that I’ll be paying for MS Remote Desktop, since it hasn’t been working for me since I hit Asia. I’ll have to find another way to cross-browser test client websites.
A quick note about affiliate links
I link to everything I use so you can go ahead and check out the products and services for yourself. However, I only become an affiliate for products and services that I actually like and am happy to recommend. If you click through and buy something via my affiliate links, it doesn’t cost you anything extra, but I get a percentage of the sale price. Please don’t buy anything unless you have a clear need for it.
Gifts and Donations
|Facebook contest: 2 tickets to Zumbaton charity event in Baton Rouge||€ 22|
|Donation to charity:water for Ben Spall’s birthday||€ 18|
|Facebook contest: 3 copies of Travel Means Freedom||€ 15|
|Donation to Zapp family in Mumbai||€ 12|
Down a good bit from €106 last month. Given that many of my other expenses were so high, I wasn’t as proactive as I like to be with donations in April. So once again I fell well short of my goal to donate 10% of my income.
I should also note here that I don’t count obligatory tips as donations. You’ll see a couple of tips listed in miscellaneous expenses down below, but they certainly weren’t given out of generosity, more out of a sense of obligation. I’ll only list in this section gifts and donations which are purely voluntary.
You may remember from my Exhausting India post that I gave a little beggar girl a few rupees at the India Gate in Delhi. That donation doesn’t appear anywhere in this report because it amounted to about 10 cents; not even worth counting.
Just before I left India I started experimenting with carrying around food and offering some to beggars who came up to me. Some would take the food reluctantly, obviously preferring to receive money. Even those folks who gestured hand-to-mouth that they were hungry didn’t appear too impressed when I offered them food. One elderly lady at the Delhi train station actually refused my offer of a snack and walked away in disgust. Have to admit though, it left my conscience feeling much better than before when I was offering them nothing.
For those of you unaware, I do run occasional contests and giveaways via the Disrupting the Rabblement Facebook page. Make sure you’ve liked the page and you’ll see future contests and giveaways posted on your timeline.
|AIB credit card government stamp duty||€ 30|
|Chase/Amazon credit card foreign transaction fees||€ 10|
|Admission to Agra Fort||€ 9|
|Admission to InterNations meet-up in Kathmandu||€ 8|
|Admission to Red Fort, Delhi||€ 8|
|Book: Rework||€ 6|
|Book: Living Within Limits||€ 6|
|Subscription to Raam Dev’s Journal||€ 5|
|Laundry at Traveller’s Inn||€ 3|
|iTunes movie rental: Buck||€ 3|
|Nepalese SIM card||€ 3|
|Currency exchange fees||€ 3|
|Laundry at Family Peace House||€ 2|
|Internet cafe in Thane||€ 2|
|Postcard and stamps||€ 1|
|Tip for tour guide in Krishna||€ 1|
|Tip for stewards on train from Mumbai to Delhi||€ 1|
Down from €171 last month. I was actually paying for two in some cases above (e.g. admission to Agra Fort), as I was hanging out with my friend María in Delhi. Sometimes I’d buy the tickets and she’d buy the food, and vice versa.
|Food and Drink||€ 294|
|Housing and Utilities||€ 924|
|Business Expenses||€ 411|
|Gifts and Donations||€ 67|
|Miscellaneous expenses||€ 113|
|Total Expenses||€ 2,242|
Not much different from the €2,372 I spent in March, and again waaaay above my goal of €1k or less. That means I’ve spent as much in the past two months as I’d hoped to spend in five months. Not good.
Away from the minuses and on to the pluses…
|$50 Blogs||€ 296|
|Freelance web design||€ 266|
|Reader donations (muchas gracias!)||€ 150|
|Disrupting the Rabblement paid subscriptions (yearly)||€ 80|
|Disrupting the Rabblement paid subscriptions (monthly)||€ 65|
|AWeber affiliate payment||€ 45|
|A Course In Courage||€ 36|
|Coda-Slider donations||€ 15|
|Total Income||€ 953|
Down a good bit from €1,425 in March, and the first time since November that I haven’t cracked the €1k mark for income. Combining that with how much I spent last month, April really was a bit of a disaster for me financially.
I only have myself to blame really, as I did much less freelance web design than usual in April, and that’s usually the most reliable way for me to earn money online. I actually turned down several freelance projects to focus more on my writing and setting up the paid subscription model for this site. Speaking of which…
Disrupting the Rabblement paid subscriptions
I have to be honest: I’ve been pretty disappointed with the initial response to this. I had more than 1,600 folks subscribed to my email list before the switch a couple of weeks ago, and I was hoping that at least 2% of them would opt to become paid subscribers. In fact, after receiving lots of positive comments and emails about the paid subscription idea, I didn’t think it would be too far-fetched to see a 5% conversion rate. But as it turned out, only fourteen people opted to pay. Less than 1%. I actually ended up receiving more money via regular reader donations than via paid subscriptions, which makes me wonder if the latter really is such a good idea.
I’ll keep going with it for now though. It’s still an experiment, and I’ll resist rushing to any conclusions.
Where that leaves me
I had €3,574 to my name at the end of March. After applying the most recent exchange rates (I have accounts in both Dollars and Euros), that had increased slightly to €3,603. Taking into account all my April income and expenditure, my total bank and cash balances now work out to €2,379.
Here’s how I’m doing so far in 2012:
- €24 in January
- €554 in February
- €947 in March
- €1,289 in April
Outlook for May
It’s obvious now that I was overly optimistic with last month’s outlook, figuring that I wouldn’t spend much while earning a lot. At the risk of looking foolish again, I’ll go ahead and predict similar for May. At least this time I won’t have any rent to pay and I won’t be on the move too much. I probably will venture out of the city for a bit of trekking at some point, but hopefully that won’t break the bank. I’ll also be focused on generating a lot more income in May. I don’t feel comfortable having less than €3k in the bank. At that, all it takes is one big, unforeseen expense (like having to replace my laptop), and I’d be fighting to make ends meet.
Let me know your thoughts on these reports. Do you find the info helpful? Would you like more detail? Less? If you’re self-employed yourself, I’d also love to hear about your financial adventures.